Farmers need weather to pick up immediately
"Woe piled on top of woe."
This was how one farmer described the current scene at farm level and Caitriona Murphy's reports on pages 1 and 2 support this view.
Farmers are being hit with what you could be termed 'the perfect storm' at the moment – except that there is nothing too perfect about it.
Atrocious weather, fodder shortages, soaring feed bills and tighter merchant and bank credit mean the crisis that began last summer is now coming to a head on many farms.
Reports from the marts confirm that farmers are already reacting to the worsening crisis by offloading stock.
Cattle numbers in the marts are well up. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for prices, with plain stores – particularly those from the dairy herd – back by €50 to €100/hd over the last 10 days as buyers shy away from cattle that would take longer to finish.
The absence of any real grass growth has compounded the problem. George Candler of Kilkenny Mart summed the current difficulties in the trade very succintly when he said the recent price falls could be attributed to "a lack of grass and a lack of brass".
The weather has also hit dairy farmers in the pocket, with co-ops reporting sharp falls in milk solids.